Russia/Soviet Union, 1979.
Well.... There is was. My first Tarkovsky film. Many things may be rushing through your head...
"Why the hell haven't you seen a Tarkovsky film yet?"
"What did you think of it?"
"Did you like it? Did you hate it?"
"Why the hell did you choose Stalker as your first Tarkovsky film?"
I really only have a legitimate answer to one of those questions: did I like it.
Yes. Very much so.
Stalker turned out to be everything I dreamed it would be. An odd tale of existentialism and meaning; set behind striking cinematography and breathtaking visuals as the characters navigate a highly ambiguous wasteland. Andrei Tarkovsky successfully created probably the most beautiful and mysterious environments put to film. "The Zone" as it is called, is a highly guarded and inaccessible place that is almost like a natural utopia. Lush greens, foggy creeks and far off forests are juxtaposed against remnants of an old society. Rusted cars, ruins of buildings, old weed riddled roads and crooked power lines also call the Zone home. Its an empty but alive land that is one of the most atmospheric and believable environments I've seen. You can feel the crisp air, hear the silence and smell the rust and wet grass. The main character is called a "Stalker" and he makes a living by sneaking people into the Zone. Why? Well the Stalker believes that there is a room hidden in the heart of the Zone that makes any man's dreams and desires come true. Constant nagging and pleading from his wife and repeated trips through the militarized posts and mysterious lands have weighed heavy on the Stalkers psyche. His latest customers, the Writer and the Professor, are going to be his most challenging and eye opening customers yet. And his latest trip to the Zone and The Room will be one that none of them will soon forget.
Andrei Tarkovsky shoots this film with a long and lingering camera that lets us soak up the environment and surroundings. Despite being a slow film (most shots last over a minute long) it is never really quiet or uneventful. Characters are always talking or giving monologues to develop the 3 men and their reaction to the surroundings. Their trip to the Room is filled with realizations, revelations, hidden motives and moments of emotional breakdown. What happens at the Room (or not in the room) was a great little quiet climax at the end before the final scenes. The characters final breakdowns and decisions about what they want or don't want from the room is highly ambiguous and philosophical. Since its release in 1979, Stalker has perplexed and mystified audiences, critics and cinephiles. It has literally thousands of possible meanings and interpretations but the one that stuck with me was the one that suggested the Zone was the afterlife. The characters were building the Zone up to be a frightening and unpredictable nightmare of a land. But when the characters got there, it was tranquil and possibly the most beautiful thing I've seen. It was a utopia. The Zone was heaven and the room was Hell. And real life outside the Zone was shot in a brown monotone grainy filter that makes everything looked cramped and ominous. It was also noisy and industrious. The change of pace is awesome and almost becomes an entirely different film. It's very rich thematically and it makes the entry to the Zone feel all the more comforting.
Stalker is one of the most puzzlingly beautiful film experiences I've seen. I feel like I've barely scratched anything when it comes to the film. All I know now is what I saw and what I felt. It was a fully realized trip to an alien land whee fish live i the flooded waters in buildings and characters spontaneously want to put their face in the moss on the ground. This philosophical journey through a beautiful natural wonder is something that I will never forget. Stalker is what dreams are made of. I may not understand it all (who does?), but it was an amazing experience.
And I knew the fucking Eternal Jew was real....
Jake Cole watched
Lighter than the other Comedies and Proverbs I've seen, but so effortlessly charming as to nearly inspire cheers with its final color-coded situation of lovers. Rohmer's direction is, as ever, subtle but evocative, from the tight, stifled shots of Blanche's white-walled, columned apartment to the sudden drift of natural freedom as she and her friend's on-again, off-again boyfriend realize their feelings for each other. Where THE GREEN RAY pushed introversion to a terrifying extreme and PAULINE AT THE BEACH collapsed under the weight of its own tangled romances, BOYFRIENDS AND GIRLFRIENDS is so utterly good-natured that the warmth that was under the others all along is made yet clearer. Lovely.
Keisha rewatched Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith on Wednesday May 22, 2013
Keisha rewatched Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones on Wednesday May 22, 2013
Keisha rewatched Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace on Wednesday May 22, 2013
Gregory Ashman watched
Despite the fact that this film provides a pretty narrow biographical focus on the career of contract killer Richard Kuklinski - when you get great character performances from such an interesting mix of actors including Winona Ryder, Stephen Dorff(!), James Franco, and Chris Evans (here almost unrecognizable)- it all comes together as a solid piece of true crime drama that realizes its limitations in scale. THE ICEMAN doesn't have the tongue-in-cheek swagger of 'Goodfellas' or the grandiosity of 'The Godfather' - its tone almost has a documentary feel as it pairs down it's narrative beats to only the necessary essentials.
Shannon is thankfully a leading man standout in the film and confidently presents the complexity of a role that balances the opaque with a constant seething and detached rage that is always bubbling beneath the surface- all the while you get to see Shannon craft his character as a believable portrayal of a model father and husband. The production is also notable for its production design elements that echo it's narrative purity- despite the portrayal of a happy and stable home life- the grimy look of the entire film doesn't back away from the fact that all we see has been predicated on acts of savage brutality and evil. Highly recommended.